Glistering Night at the Old Village of Gion

So far, our travel itinerary was followed on time. We’ve visited the target sites which was properly brainstormed and sorted.  However, I realized that our original Day Tour only plan in Kyoto is unwise. It will only cover few spots, missing numbers of temples and attractions which are also worthy to explore. It was best that we decided to stay overnight.

Location: Kyoto, Japan

Accomodation: Court Hotel Kyoto Shijo Central

Buddies: Family (2+)

From the hotel at 4pm, we walked for few minutes to the nearby Shijo Karasuma Bus Stop and rode Bus 207 going to Higashiyama District passing the famous village of Gion. We got off at Kiyomizu-michi Bus Stop, the direct path to Kiyomizu-dera. We walked uphill passing the line up of busy shops and crowded streets. Seeing a huge crowd going to one direction indicates that we were definitely heading to the right site.

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Behind our back!
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The complex entrance

We reached the complex gate and freely roam the temples at the entrance. The crowd was overwhelming and there was no way to clear up the site for selfie photos. We headed to the main hall but I was confused if we’re really on the correct temple. I didn’t recognize the structure because it was under construction. But after paying the entrance fee and entering the disfigured hall, I confirmed that we were on the right place. We were inside the main temple of Kiyomizu-dera!

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Kiyomizu-dera – known for its wooden veranda

Kiyomizu-dera is a Buddhist temple on Mount Otowa which is listed in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 1944. The temple is under renovation and the wooden veranda was covered with erected scaffolding. The beautiful views from the veranda was so scenic. However, it would look better during autumn as seen in most of online photographs. In such weather, the bright and colorful trees blanketing the mountain is believed to be unbelievable.

We walked following the trail passing the Okuno-in Hall and the Observatory Area where we viewed the wonderful and modernized city of Kyoto. We ran uphill to personally see the Koyasu Pagoda, the structure at the nearby hill which attractively seen from the veranda. The memorable walk ended when we returned back to the complex’s entrance passing the Otowa Waterfalls where tourists were queuing for a drink from the water stream. Most of the temples has a water stream but only there, the water is allowed to drink.

Before 6pm, the Japanese authorities switched on the siren to call the tourists to move out from the complex for closing. The shops nearby were also started shutting their doors. My wife hurriedly bought green color ice cream in one of the shop. At first, I thought of a pistachio flavor which is common in Middle East but its melted in my mouth with a green tea taste.

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Sunset at the Old Japanese Village

Every time I visited a new place, I am always excited for the sunset. I’ll be normally found staying outdoor or at the open window looking at the sky. From the spectacle twilight scene until it fully converses its day into night. A second of darkness until the simulated lights switched on and livened back the place. A typical and ordinary event which I merrily appreciated! Experiencing this natural phenomenon particularly in a preserved street of Higashiyama district in Kyoto was a big bonus!

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Tourist wearing Japan’s traditional clothing.

From the main street, we turned right into the cemented stair leading to an alley of stores which were closing. The houses and shops are magnificent just like the setting of movies with historical Japanese genre. I love those old houses design and wanted to build one.

With the on hand GPS, we walked for almost 30 minutes into the direction of the Yasaka Shrine. My saggy eyes radiated with happiness when I saw the shrine’s entrance torii gate!

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Yasaka Shrine on light blast

Yasaka or famously known as Gion shrine is a Shinto shrine which has free entrance and open for 24 hours. The complex was in dim but the highlight was the stage with lightened hanging lanterns. No one is performing but the full illuminated lights of the stage enchanted me that it became the center of  focus to most of the photos I took.

DSC_0234DSC_0253We didn’t stay longer at the shrine. Besides, its nearby buildings were closed. At 7pm, we walked astray at the famous Gion street to find a restaurant. Also, I was looking for any shadow of real geisha as I never see one.

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Gion at Night
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Lanterns at the restaurant

Gion – famous for restaurants and tea houses

We entered one street in Gion where the famous restaurants are situated. The lanterns lit from the street was so amazing. By looking at the menu displayed at every restaurant’s door, the meals offered were consistently pricey and meeting a geisha inside is not an assurance. We decided to skip the planned dinner in Gion and we rode Bus 201 back to our hotel location.

We entered a small restaurant along the road between Shijo-Horikawa and Shijo-Karasuma. We sat on the table waiting for the waiter to take our orders but when she came, she told us to use the vending machine near the entrance door. I noticed that  there are great numbers of vending machines positioned along the streets of Osaka and Kyoto but its out of my expectations that even small restaurants are also using it.

cofThe meal options offered by the restaurants are displayed in the machine even the added items like extra rice, soup, and etc. Just like any vending machine, we chose our desired meal pack, inserted the bill to pay, took the receipt and gave it to the waiter. In few minutes, our yummy orders was delivered to our table.

Our night in Kyoto was over and fulfilling though I failed to see a geisha, who I really obsess to meet. Geisha is certainly rare even in Kyoto.

(Day 3 of my Japan Visit last April 2018)

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